Turtles All the Way Down was surprisingly refreshing. I say ‘surprisingly’ because it deals with heavy topics, like mental illness and loss of loved ones. So I expected this book to be much sadder and emotional. That’s not to say it wasn’t emotional, because it totally was, but in an uplifting and refreshing way. It left me feeling hopeful.
Aza is incredible and I adored her…
Aza, our protagonist, is one of my favorite characters that John Green has written so far. To be completely honest, I’ve grown to be much less fond of most of his male protagonists over the years. So Aza and Hazel from TFiOS are my favorites.
She’s pretty easy to relate to, funny, and just your average teenager. Except, like many others, she deals with anxiety that affects nearly all aspects of her life. Aza’s anxiety is pretty centered on physical illnesses, particularly bacterial infections. So she is constantly worrying about whether she’ll get an infection from certain activities.
I do not deal with the same type of anxiety as Aza, but anxiety is not unfamiliar territory for me. In many ways, I could understand Aza’s “spirals” or intrusive thoughts and feelings. But also in many other ways, I could not. Anxiety is different for everyone, but I think Turtles All the Way Down encompasses many aspects of life with anxiety and mental illness. So even if you can’t understand or identify with every aspect of Aza’s anxiety, there are likely parts you can identify with.
Aza’s best friend, Daisy, was sometimes difficult to like…
And that is precisely what I found so compelling about her character. She isn’t perfect, but neither is Aza or anyone else. The main difficulty with liking Daisy is that she really can’t understand what Aza is experiencing in terms of her anxiety, and sometimes, it seems like she isn’t really trying to. At times, it feels like instead of helping Aza, she alienates her or shuts her down.
That really sucks, but it’s unfortunately very realistic. Many people with anxiety or a mental illness often have loved ones who struggle to understand. The important thing is that Daisy really does try to be there for Aza. She might not say or do the right thing all the time, but she listens when Aza tries to help her understand.
Daisy is also an interesting character because she writes Star Wars fan fiction, some of which is featured in the book. I know absolutely nothing about Star Wars. So most of it went completely above my head, but it was still really cool that Daisy had her own interest and hobbies that really fit into the story.
The love interest was not the main thing in Turtles All the Way Down
If you’ve read John Green’s other books, you know that romance/love interests often take the spotlight. That’s totally fine and often something I’m interested in in YA contemporaries, but the fact that Davis, Aza’s sort-of boyfriend, feels like a subplot instead of the main plot is one of the things that made this book so much more interesting.
Although, if you’re anticipating shipping your heart out in this book like you did with TFiOS, you’re absolutely right. I shipped Aza and Davis the entire time. They were super cute, even if their romance wasn’t the main focus.
Lastly, like always, expect some beautiful prose from John Green
We all know how lovely John Green’s writing is and it took all of my will power to not copy down every beautiful line and include it here.
But I will leave you with this gem:
“We always say we are beneath the stars. We aren’t, of course—there is no up or down, and anyway the stars surround us. But we say we are beneath them, which is nice. So often English glorifies the human—we are whos, other animals are that—but English puts us beneath the stars, at least.”
― John Green,
Overall: Another lovely book by John Green, perhaps his best yet. Definitely add it to your TBR (even if his earlier books weren’t your fav). My only complaint was that I despised the ending of the book… It came out of nowhere. WHAT?! So, four stars instead of five.
What do you think? Do you want to read Turtles All the Way Down? If you already have, leave a link to your review/share your thoughts in the comments! ♥